Aztec Ruins National Monument, near Farmington, 3 hours northwest of Albuquerque

Built by Ancestral Puebloans along the beautiful Animas River almost 1,000 years ago, the Aztec Ruins National Monument is a World Heritage Site. Aztec is a small town adjacent to Farmington.

As with Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde Cliff dwellings in Colorado, the masonry is remarkable. The Ancestral Puebloans did not use metal tools, so the uniformity of the stone bricks is amazing to contemplate.

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Imagine how old the wood in this ceiling must be!

In many sites around New Mexico, you can find the circular ruins from underground kivas, large ceremonial chambers, with window openings that capture the movement of the sun throughout the day and year.

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Only at Aztec can you find a kiva that has been reconstructed. This was done long ago, and today is considered controversial as kivas are sacred areas; however, we are thankful to be able to visit the one here. Inside the reconstructed one we  can hear the echoes of the chamber and see its enormous size—something that is hard to really imagine from seeing ruins only.

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The light inside is exquisite for photography

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